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Telepath Tactics - All News

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Tuesday - February 28, 2017
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Box Art

Tuesday - February 28, 2017

Telepath Tactics - New Engine in Development

by Hiddenx, 21:08

Telepath Tactics gets a new engine, because some bugs can't be fixed with the old one:

New engine in development!

Hey folks! It's been a while since the last update, so I figured I'd let you all know what's going on with Telepath Tactics.

As some of you know, there are a couple of bugs in Telepath Tactics that I was never able to fully correct despite months of sustained effort. No number of changes to the code seemed to fix these things; I eventually came to the conclusion that I must have run into limitations in the underlying engine.

At this point, the rational business decision would have probably been to go, "Oh well, I guess those bugs are just there to stay," then move on to another project. But that's not my style. Instead, I've been slowly but surely rebuilding the entire engine from scratch in a brand-new development environment.

The Telepath Tactics engine is complex (and also I have a day job), so this has been taking me a while--but this new version of the engine already has some significant improvements: better UI, 3D representation of the battlefield, camera smoothing and zooming, better performance, and some cool new capabilities that I'm not ready to talk about juuuust yet. ;)

When all is said and done, I hope to use it to put out a special, improved edition of Telepath Tactics. If you're eager for more details, you can follow along with my progress here [sinisterdesign.net] on the Sinister Design forums.

Thursday - July 23, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Brass Tacks and Sales Stats #2

by Hiddenx, 18:48

Craig Stern with part #2 of his very interesting in depth-look in the finance-books:


Initial sales numbers

With that in mind, how is Telepath Tactics doing so far? Three months after release, I have sold approximately 3,000 copies total across all platforms, with gross sales revenue upwards of $36,660.

Net sales revenue, which accounts for the cut taken by the various distribution platforms, is a good deal lower than the gross–note that net is the amount I actually receive. Valve prohibits developers from disclosing data regarding sales made on Steam, so I cannot reveal my net revenue or otherwise break down my total sales by distribution channel. Ultimately, however, the breakdown doesn’t really matter for my purposes: regardless of what the distribution is, I (1) succeeded in fully recouping my out-of-pocket expenses, (2) made a small profit, and (3) failed to make enough money at launch to support myself making a game full-time over the next two years.

Is that good?

In a word: no. SteamSpy estimates that the average RPG on Steam alone has more than 10 times that number of owners. But more importantly, these sales numbers don’t meet my ultimate goal of allowing me to move into game development as a sustainable full-time job.

Someone unfamiliar with the games industry might think that $36,660 is pretty good for just the first three months of a game’s life span–and it would be, if I were a developer who was able to pump out games every 6 months, or even every year. But Telepath Tactics began development in 2009–$36,660 is not anything close to a sustainable amount of revenue for a game with such a lengthy development cycle.

And unfortunately, the fact that it’s only been 3 months since release isn’t a reason to expect much more in the way of sales revenue. Games mostly behave like movies opening in theaters, with launch week analogous to a movie’s opening weekend: traditionally, the bulk of a game’s profits are made at (and shortly after) launch, with a mere drip-feed of sales following from that point onward.

True to form, sales of Telepath Tactics have thus far followed this “L” trajectory. The vast majority of all money made by the game was made in its first week, before the game dropped too far off of Steam and GOG’s respective “new releases” charts for prospective buyers to easily find it. Telepath Tactics is now in what is traditionally referred to as “the long tail”–the flat, horizontal part of the “L.”


Wednesday - June 24, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Brass Tacks and Sales Stats #1

by Hiddenx, 07:06

Craig Stern let us take a in depth-look in the finance-books:

I’ve posted a lot about the development of Telepath Tactics: my design philosophy, my month-to-month progress, and so on. Now, a couple of months out from the game’s release, I want to take an in-depth look at Telepath Tactics from a financial standpoint.

Prior to Telepath Tactics’s release, I did not make games full-time. Rather, I had to maintain a day job in order to pay my bills (and to hedge against the possibility that Telepath Tactics might not be commercially successful).

I haven’t made a secret of the fact that I dislike having to compromise like this, nor have I hidden the fact that I very much want to go full-time with game development. Will Telepath Tactics tip the balance of my finances in favor of being able to quit my day job and develop games for a living? That depends entirely upon some cold, hard numbers, which we will now examine!

What did it cost to make?

I began developing the Telepath Tactics engine in April 2009, a little over 6 years ago. I worked on it only occasionally until March 2012, at which point I began regularly devoting 10-20 hours a week to the game on top of my regular full-time employment. For a four-month period during the summer of 2013, I took a sabbatical from my day job and worked on the game for 40 hours per week. Other than that sabbatical, I did not receive pay for any of the time I spent working on the game.

In total, I spent $13,266.25 out of my own pocket to pay for art, tools, and marketing opportunities for Telepath Tactics over the past three years. Of that, $6,034.38 was spent before (and during) its second Kickstarter campaign, all on expenditures to secure the assets and attention needed to crowdfund the game successfully.

The game’s first Kickstarter campaign did not succeed. The second Kickstarter campaign, however, raised $41,259.00, or 275% of its funding goal. After accounting for Amazon’s cut, Kickstarter’s cut, and pledges that didn’t go through, I eventually received $37,161.75. Of that, I was able to spend $29,560.78 on the game before the end of 2013, thereby dramatically reducing the taxes I would owe on the Kickstarter money come April 15, 2014. Still, I ended up owing several thousand dollars more in taxes for 2013 than I did the year before as a direct result of what I’d raised on Kickstarter; these taxes ultimately had to come out of the Kickstarter funds as well.

Tuesday - June 16, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Patch 1.036

by Myrthos, 17:30

A new patch for Telepatch Tactics is out, bringing it to version 1.036.

All right, everyone! I’ve got a handful of new fixes and improvements coming your way:

  • to improve performance, the game now automatically removes all listeners from all characters and objects on the battlefield at the start of a CPU player’s turn. (It returns them to the battlefield whenever a human player’s turn arrives.) This should address the absurd amount of processor time AIR was devoting to “button hittesting” in my last performance test.
  • fixed a bug in which the the game would freeze at the conclusion of Annel Stormhunter’s goodbye speech.
  • suspicious that array entanglement may have been occurring during the game saving process (and thereby leading to inventory bugs), I created a new copyArray() function to automatically detect how many dimensions an array contains, break down the array down into its smallest component parts, and then push those parts to a new array with the same number of dimensions and return the new array. I then deployed this function as part of a new class that I’m using going forward for all array copying performed as part of game-saving and inventory-building functions.
  • fixed a bug in which character portraits would sometimes get mixed up when swapping deployment tiles around a lot.
  • fixed that annoying bug where you inexplicably couldn’t drag a character out of the Characters in Reserve window onto certain deployment tiles on the battlefield.
  • fixed an issue where hit detection was slightly off for deployment tiles dragged out of the Characters in Reserve window and onto the battlefield.
  • fixed a bug in which non-equippable “triggered” items with no use limit would visibly show their uses left degrading into the negatives instead of just remaining at 0 when used in a character’s inventory.
  • fixed a bug in which a key with no use limit would visibly show uses left degrading into the negatives instead of just remaining at 0 after being used to unlock doors.
  • fixed a bug in which the GiveItem script action would not “stick” if a character’s personal inventory screen was open at the time the script action was run.

I’ve been experimenting with switching over from .sol-based save games to a custom save format. I’ve made progress, but it isn’t working just yet. More to come in the next update!

Monday - June 01, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Review @ Gamebanshee

by Myrthos, 12:46

Gamebanshee has reviewed Telepath Tactics to find it being a mixed bag.

For the most part, Telepath Tactics is a fine budget title.  The campaign works well, and you're given plenty of motivation to defeat the Shadowling boss at the end.  The characters ended up being more involving than I expected, especially with so many of them hanging around.  And while the 2D graphics and background music aren't anything special, they get the job done, and there is some variety to them.  For example, you end up fighting in lava-filled caves, frozen tundras, and balmy island jungles.

But Telepath Tactics has an awful flaw -- the save system.  Basically put, you're not allowed to save during the missions.  In theory, this isn't something I disagree with.  I don't like it when games allow you to save during battles because it cheapens the end result.  But unfortunately, Telepath Tactics has some things in common with the X-COM games, where your characters start out very fragile, and it's easy for them to die.  That makes the first third of the campaign thoroughly frustrating, since it's sort of okay for characters to die, but you're not sure how much leeway you really have, and so just about any death means restarting.  I must have played the early missions of the campaign at least three times each just to get an acceptable result, and that amount of repetition isn't any fun.

Thursday - May 28, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Review @ RPG Codex

by Hiddenx, 00:52

Zetor of the RPG Codex reviews the Craig Stern's Telepath Tactics: A snippet:

The combat system is deceptively simple: every attack automatically hits (with few exceptions, see later under RNG), but positioning matters. Attacks and spells do more damage from the side and a LOT more damage from the back; in addition, ranged attacks do more damage from close range. If the target has a weapon that can retaliate against the attack (e.g. a bow against a ranged character, or a melee weapon against a ranged attacker) and they still have counterattacks remaining this turn, they can turn around and counterattack afterwards, usually for mediocre damage. This sort of positional combat in a turn-based game is actually a pet peeve of mine -- how can a combatant just walk around someone they're actively fighting and strike them in the back for much damage? A trained fighter should be able to keep their guard up and at least make an effort to face their foe (assassins excepted); a turn-based game should try to support this. The best backstab implementation was in the Gold Box games, where each unit could turn to face the first attack against them each turn, and subsequent attacks could backstab them or get a flat to-hit bonus. Ah well, can't fight against the SRPG industry standard!

All special abilities take energy to use (basic attacks and shoving/pulling enemies are free), which only recharges when a character is idle: 1 energy per turn if the character performs non-attack actions such as movement, 5 energy per turn if the character doesn't do anything at all. Considering that everyone starts combat with one-third of their max energy (with melee characters typically having a much lower energy cap than casters), energy management as well as proper use of energy-recharging consumables is a critical decision for most characters. Unfortunately this also makes casters lackluster for most encounters, as they are forced to pass most of their turns to be able to cast their spells when required. Speaking of consumables, they can be used at any time during the character's turn, and using them is a free action. As they can be quite powerful (restore a lot of energy and/or health, give the unit 40% more movement for one turn, give 20% physical damage reduction for a time), rampant Fallout-esque exploitation (hey, let me just go into my inventory and use 30 stimpacks) is kept in check by consumables being somewhat expensive and/or non-trivial to get more of.

In the end, overcoming challenges in a mission is done through a series of risk:reward decisions, and this game has them in spades. In fact, one of its greatest strengths is that there are so many ways to deal with those. You can play it safe or be super-aggressive; you can kill everything that moves or win a map without really fighting any enemies; you can even re-arrange the map to create your own strategy for winning the battle. Some examples that came up during my playthrough:

  • Do I move in tight formation to protect my squishies, even though this exposes me to AOE attacks and getting flanked by ranged enemies?
  • Do I split up my team to deal with enemies attacking from three directions, or do I keep everyone together and try to block off some approaches?
  • Do I send off my fastest units to open treasure chests behind enemy lines, thus possibly exposing them to danger while leaving me with less units to carry out the main objectives? Or do I leave treasure chests alone until I've dealt with the main threats, thus risking their contents getting stolen by an NPC thief?
  • Do I keep out of movement/attack range of potentially dangerous enemies while I get everyone in position (possibly allowing them to get reinforcements), or do I rush to the most important targets ASAP and try to protect my vanguard?
  • Do I move slowly and methodically through the map, destroying all enemy forces for extra gold / experience / item drops at the risk of taking more damage and losing resources, or do I send a flier to beeline for the main objective to avoid getting outmatched?
  • Before engaging the main enemy force, do I constantly reposition my casters in reaction to enemy movement to keep them as safe as possible, or do I try to get them into a moderately safe position in the first turn and then pass their turns to gain 5 energy instead of 1 per turn (and perhaps keeping another unit back to babysit them as needed)?
  • Do I save that suicidal NPC and expose my own units to danger, or do I let them die and possibly miss out on a new party member or even a side mission?
  • Do I burn consumables to burst down an enemy with a dangerous attack, or save them and prepare to take the attack?
  • Do I partially destroy a bridge to create a chokepoint and take the risk of the bridge getting completely destroyed by enemy Crossbowmen as a follow-up?
  • Do I attack from max range with my casters to avoid exposing them to danger, or walk to a 2-tile range from the target (or even melee range with Mind Blast and some point-blank AOE attacks spells) to get more damage out?
  • Do I kill this target by focusing attacks on them, or do I just push them into the water to make them waste their next turn swimming to shore?
  • After gaining the upper hand and having the option of finishing the battle at any time, do I let my lower-level characters pick off the last enemies to gain experience and possibly expose them to unneeded risk?
  • Do I switch to a weaker/cheap weapon to dispatch a near-death enemy, or do I keep using the good stuff in case the character gets attacked and needs to make the counterattack count?
Now keep in mind that some battles are long... and some are VERY long. They are also mentally exhausting -- once I was done with a 2-hour monster of a fight, I was typically not up for playing the next mission immediately. This is definitely a game that's best played in bursts with some time to recharge in between!

Friday - May 22, 2015

Telepath Tactics - New Patch 1.032

by Gorath, 20:55

And the second new patch for Telepath Tactics:

Telepath Tactics v. 1.032 Patch

Hey folks! I just pushed another quick (but important) update:

  • fixed a bug that I accidentally introduced in version 1.031 where the game would not save changes to your characters–or their equipment–in between battles. (For players starting new games, this manifested in the form of Emma being back to level 1 with 0 experience and not having her swords available at the start of the fight with Zash and Red.)
  • new script action: GetCharsDist. Finds the distance in spaces between two named characters, sets the custom value _Dist to that number. Two parameters: the name of the first character, and the name of the second character.
  • new script action: GetCharSpaceDist. Finds the distance in spaces between a named character and a given space on the battlefield, then sets the custom value _Dist to that number. Three parameters: the name of the character, the space’s y coordinate, and the space’s x coordinate.
  • added a script to the training battle with Emma and Silithis so that if the _Dist between them is 1, it skips the instruction “To attack, move Emma right next to Silithis.”
  • added documentation of all the new array script actions to the manual.

Sorry for making you update again so soon! Now, it’s back to work on performance improvements and Mac compatibility stuff.

Telepath Tactics - Patch 1.031 Released

by Gorath, 20:53

Sinister Design released two new patches for Telepath Tactics. The patch log for v1.031 says:

Telepath Tactics v. 1.031 Patch

Hey folks! Telepath Tactics was selected for the indie expo in Power of Play this weekend, so I was out there showing off the game. This cut into bug-fixing time somewhat, but I still managed to squeeze in a cluster of bug fixes and improvements for a new update:

  • newly spawned reinforcements can no longer attack on the same turn they spawn (though they can still move around).
  • you can now increase the size of the font that appears in those little pop-up info boxes when mousing over characters, objects and interface buttons.
  • info boxes now dynamically resize vertically (they already did that horizontally) to accommodate the larger supported font sizes.
  • increased the font size in the detailed character screen from 11 to 12.
  • the game now ties changes made to character inventories in the reserve supplies screen to the individual characters’ names rather than saving them numerically by character slot. (This is me taking another stab at killing the inventory swapping bug–hopefully this was of the “fatal backstab” variety.)
  • fixed a bug in which changes made in the reserve supplies during battle would be saved even if were in the middle of a battle, long after you finished deploying characters.
  • fixed some more edge cases where it could end up glitching out the game if an enemy was killed by wandering into a trap.
  • fixed a bug in which Louise could show up in the ending even if she died or left the group earlier on.
  • fixed the scripting in the chat immediately preceding the caravan battle so characters who may have died at Adelbrae don’t show up and talk.
  • you can now right-click the portraits of characters who’ve been recruited but haven’t appeared on the battlefield yet (like Meridian right after you rescue her) during deployment / in the common inventory.
  • pulling the lever on the ground-floor Coria Dogs battle now spawns a chest with special loot inside.
  • expanded the range on psy user buff abilities (blinding cloak, frost armor, etc.) from 1 to 0-2.
  • added a new legendary weapon to the game: the bow Lyrio. Strength 11, Accuracy +100, gives Range +1 to all ranged attacks. Can only be found as a rare spawn in chests / in the crypt mission.
  • added flails to late-game stores.
  • added a sound effect for Hover.
  • the game now supports a new type of custom variable: arrays! This is big news for modders who want to script more complex content.
  • There are a bunch of new script actions relating to the creation, pruning, and general usage of arrays: SetArr, GetArr, DelArr, ShuffleArr and ForArr. More info on how to use those here and here!
  • changed ITEMVAL format from -ITEMVAL:X- to ITEMVAL[X] to make it easier to nest the -STR:- and -ARR:- special characters inside it.
  • created a store with randomized item selection inside it in the Recruitable Chars stub campaign using custom arrays; feel free to steal it!

That’s all for now. More bug fixes and improvements are in the wings, so stay tuned!

Saturday - May 16, 2015

Telepath Tactics - 6 reasons to pay attention to Telepath Tactics

by Hiddenx, 14:49

Craig Stern gives you 6 reasons to take a look at Telepath Tactics:

Now seems like a good time to begin a second marketing push! For this reason, I’ve written the following article–aimed at the media, but probably of interest to others as well–explaining why this game is so important.

“Important?” you might say. “Come now, Craig, aren’t you being a little pompous?” No, really! Aside from just being a solid, well-designed strategy RPG on a platform historically lacking in such titles, there are six major things that–in my honest (if not objective) opinion–make Telepath Tactics genuinely special and worthy of greater attention.

Grab the demo here.


Source: Sinister Design

Friday - May 08, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Demo Available

by Myrthos, 12:36

If you would like to try before you buy, a demo is now available for Telepath Tactics, that will let you do just that.

Attention tactics lovers! If you wanted to give Telepath Tactics a try before picking it up, I have great news for you: there’s now a free demo! Get it here:

Windows   |   Mac   |   Linux*

This demo gives you the first handful of battles and cut scenes from the main campaign, plus a local multiplayer 1-v-1 you can play against the computer on the Little Lava Cave map using 5 of the game’s 23 base character classes.

The full version of Telepath Tactics is $14.99 for Windows, Mac, and Linux direct from the developer; it is also available on Steam and GOG.

Thanks HiddenX

Saturday - May 02, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Small Review Roundup #2

by Couchpotato, 05:45

Here is the second small review roundup for Telepath Tactics.

Rock,Paper,Shotgun - No Score

Telepath Tactics, appropriately, has a beautiful mind. The rest of it is harder to admire, but even so, this is a game that people who crave patience, precision and strategy from their roleplaying battles are going to take to their hearts. In its quiet way, this is a huge game – big fights, lethal consequences, wide array of combat possibilities… Fire Emblem fans would love it, probably. I wouldn’t know.

IndieHaven - No Score

There are some cool touches to the game that stand out. Your characters are able to push other NPCs, which, if done correctly, will throw them into rivers or even lava! You can also push rocks to make bridges or hack away trees to clear a path. Another mode of play is a combat arena where you can create your own encounters against the AI or other players locally.

Overall, there’s a fun game here, but it’s not without its frustrations. The combat is fun and challenging, though definitely more so if you forget to pick up a useful item or two at the store before your fight.

Saturday - April 25, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Fluent's Thoughts (Video)

by Fluent, 20:06

Hi everyone! In this video I take a look at the recently-released strategy-RPG, Telepath Tactics, and give you an idea of what to expect in the game, why I like it and why I think you will, too! Laughing


Hi! Thanks for joining me. In today's video, we take a look at the Kickstarter-funded, turn-based strategy-RPG, Telepath Tactics!

The game is a ton of fun and I highly recommend it. If you like games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, Tactics Ogre and the like, you will definitely find something to enjoy in this gorgeous adventure!



More info on the game - http://sinisterdesign.net/products/telepath-tactics/

Buy it on Steam - http://store.steampowered.com/app/357940/

Support me on Patreon - http://www.patreon.com/fluent

Check out my stuff on RPGWatch - http://www.rpgwatch.com


If you like the game, leave me a comment and let me know what you think about it! Also, LIKE/SHARE/SUBSCRIBE for more!

Please check out my Patreon page if you like what I do here on YouTube and RPGWatch!

Thanks for watching!

So, have you played the game, and if so, what do you think about it? 

Monday - April 20, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Small Review Roundup

by Couchpotato, 05:33

Here are three new reviews for the just released Telepath Tactics this week. Also don't forget we are raffling off thee digital copies thanks to developer on our site.

MOUSE n JOYPAD - 72/100

Telepath Tactics brings some fresh ideas to the table, even as a game in the style of an old Fire Emblem title. Backstabbing enemies on the battlefield is great fun but is too often marred by technical glitches and a sometimes baffling story. Engagements with the enemy A.I. are often long and boring, although a wide variety of classes and cool character abilities makes this a game worth checking out, keeping its flaws in mind.

GameRant - 3.5/5

Telepath Tactics is an impressive title for such a small development team. The game mechanics themselves are well thought-out and the game, although slow going at first, brings in a very high level of challenge for tactical RPG players. There are some awkward character designs, and the game world and story may not be of the highest level, but underneath the game’s cheery graphical style lies the potential for hours upon hours of gameplay.

Modvive - 95/100

Fans of any Tactical RPG that want to try something that is different but still feels like the games you know and love, should give Telepath Tactics a try; and if you haven’t had the chance to play a Tactical RPG before, or are looking for something new, this should be worth every penny.

Friday - April 17, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Win A Digital Steam Copy

by Couchpotato, 06:18

Now that our last two contests are now over I have another surprise for everyone. Thanks to developer Craig Stern we have three copies of Telepath Tactics to raffle off.


Telepath Tactics is a turn-based strategy RPG set in the steampunk universe of Telepath RPG. It features gorgeous pixel art, destructible battlefields, environmental hazards you can shove enemies into, the ability to build bridges and barricades, and a ruleset that adopts best practices from such classic series as Final Fantasy Tactics and Disgaea.

Now the usual restictions do apply.

  1. No new members are eligible to enter the raffle.
  2. You must have at least 30 posts on our forum.
  3. To enter write a commet on what you like about the game.

I will announce the winners on Friday April, 24th.

Thursday - April 16, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Has Been Released

by Couchpotato, 19:46

Developer Craig Stern of Sinister Design sent news his turn-based strategy RPG Telepath Tactics is now available on his website, Steam, and GOG. Here are the details.


Greetings, RPGWatchers! I write to let you know that indie strategy RPG Telepath Tactics has now been released:

You can buy Telepath Tactics direct from me right here for $14.99:

Windows | MacLinux

You can also find Telepath Tactics on Steam (where it is currently Windows-only, though I’ll be adding Mac and Linux versions there in the coming weeks) and on GOG.com (in Windows and Mac flavors).

I've also taken the liberty of making the map editor (the same one I used to make the game) freely available to anyone who wants it! Full details here.

Wednesday - April 15, 2015

Telepath Tactics - Close to Release Update

by Couchpotato, 09:04

Developer Craig Stern posted a new update on the Telepath Tactics kickstarter page that has information his game is going to be released this Thursday.

Greetings, gentle backers! We are, here and now, only 2 days away from the release of the game! (Less than that, actually: it releases Thursday at 12:00 Central Daylight Time, which means it's technically more like 1 day and 21.66 hours away. But I digress.)

We're already starting to get some attention leading up to release, which is good! And reviews / first impressions vids should hopefully start popping up tomorrow, which will be even better.

On the distribution side of things, the game is now a definite go for GOG in both Windows and Mac flavors on release day. I've also been toiling away at getting the game to play nice with Steam for something like a week now--odds are excellent that both the Windows and Mac versions will be on Steam on release day as well.

"But Craig," you might say, "what about Linux?" Not to worry! I'm in touch with Lars Doucet, the creator of Defender's Quest, who is teaching me the dark sorceries necessary to get the game to install on Linux without the hassle of making you all install AIR first. We're not there just yet, but once I have that magic trick working, the Linux incarnation of Telepath Tactics will be made available on GOG and Steam as well. (In the meantime, rest assured that I'll be making the Linux version available to all of you directly!)

Tuesday - February 17, 2015

Telepath Tactics - New Release Date

by Couchpotato, 04:21

A new update on the Telepath Tactics website announces the new release date.

Hello, everyone! It is my pleasure to announce an official release date for Telepath Tactics: April 16, 2015. It’s been a long long journey, but the end is in sight at last!

“Now wait a minute, Craig,” you might be saying, “I remember you saying that this would be releasing in mid-March. Did you push the release back?” Your memory does not deceive you: I recently decided to push back the Telepath Tactics release a month, from March 16 to April 16. “But why would you do that, Craig? Are you behind schedule? Are you still waiting for art? Are you dealing with some sort of insurmountable technical obstacle?!” No, no, no–nothing like that. The game is finished! The art’s done, the campaign is done; all that’s left are a handful of relatively minor bugs, a smidgen of polish work, and Steam integration. In theory, I could probably release it in the next couple of weeks if I wanted to.

So why push it back? In short: for tactical reasons. I did some scouting, and–to put it bluntly–there are a metric shit-ton of games coming out in March 2015, including quite a few RPGs and turn-based strategy games. Pillars of Eternity is releasing. Bloodborne is releasing. Project S.T.E.A.M. is releasing. Worlds of Magic is releasing. Atelier Shallie is releasing. There’s even a new Final Fantasy coming out! And on top of all that, GDC and PAX happen back-to-back in March, the two of which are sufficient to tie up the press for several weeks all on their own. March is going to be a bloodbath, basically.

Friday - February 06, 2015

Telepath Tactics - January 2015 Update

by Couchpotato, 00:36

Sinister Design has posted the January update for Telepath Tactics.

Telepath Tactics is all but complete. I’m heading into February with features and content complete, and am now in the midst of fixing bugs, tweaking things for balance, and adding polish where needed. I also have to do Steam integration, and add in a few last-minute assets from my artists (who are wonderful but can be rather slow at times).

I plan to send out review copies to the press in a couple of weeks; I’ll be tackling the Steam integration and any last-minute bug fixes after that, ideally in time for a mid-March release.

Tuesday - January 06, 2015

Telepath Tactics - December Development Update

by Couchpotato, 05:23

Sinister Design has posted the latest update for Telepath Tactics.  It's a long update with plenty of news, and I will only post a small snippet. So here we go.

We’ve now left 2014 behind and are marching headlong into 2015. I set myself a goal of having the main campaign for Telepath Tactics finished in rough form by the end of the day on December 31, 2014. Did I meet this goal, you might wonder? The answer: yes! Let’s get into details about what we’ve accomplished this past month:

First and foremost, Telepath Tactics is now playable from beginning to end! This meant writing a ton of cut scenes and new battles. There are presently 24 battles in the main campaign, including a highly challenging, very large final battle for you to beat. I’d like to add in one more battle before release to get the game’s number of battles to 25, but I’m reasonably happy with what’s in there now. Even without it, I estimate that the game should take an average player (that is, one who restarts battles after losing characters) at least 20 hours to beat.

Wednesday - December 03, 2014

Telepath Tactics - November Update

by Killias2, 15:50

Sinister Design has posted the latest update on Telepath Tactics.  It's a long update with plenty of news, but here are a few choice bits:

To sum up: we now have all of the rest poses and all of the walk cycles for the game’s 23 promoted classes, and 11 of the promoted classes now have 100% completed attack animations as well. Once the remaining promoted classes get their attack animations, all promoted character graphics will be complete.

Speaking of which: as of today, I am officially up to the final third of the game! My goal for this coming month is to create a complete rough draft of this final portion of the game. If I hit my mark, I’ll have that done by December 31, leaving me January, February, and March for playtesting, polishing, Steam implementation, and badgering my artists into finishing up any graphical loose ends. I plan to send out press copies around the end of February; this means we’ll have reviews ready to go when I release the finished game in late March 2015 (right near the end of winter).

There is also news on a slew of other updates, such as balance changes, polish, new cutscenes, and more.  It seems that Telepath Tactics is starting to come together, especially if he feels comfortable discussing a March release date.

Tuesday - November 04, 2014

Telepath Tactics - October Update

by Couchpotato, 06:26

The October development update for Telepath Tactics was posted this week. Once again I can't list every detail of the update so visit the link above for more information.

Folks! We’re now a mere two months before the end of the year. Early in 2014, I decided that I would try to have the main campaign for Telepath Tactics finished by December 31, 2014. Is that still plausible? Yes! Is it going to happen? Maybe! All I can say is that I’m encouraged by the progress I made this past month (even if said progress did depend upon me ignoring most of my friends, seeing my girlfriend no more than 1-2 nights a week, and getting far less than the physician-recommended amount of sleep most nights). So what did we accomplish? Read on and find out!

Thursday - October 02, 2014

Telepath Tactics - September Update

by Couchpotato, 03:02

The September development update for Telepath Tactics was posted this week. As usual I can't list every detail of the update so visit the link above for more information.

Another month has passed, and that means it’s time to provide an update on Telepath Tactics! So what’s new?

First, there’s this! Much as with the voice actors from my last game, I’ve been wanting to interview some of the folks who’ve helped me out with various aspects of Telepath Tactics. These are extremely talented people, and they deserve recognition for their efforts. I’ve started out by interviewing Telepath Tactics composer Ryan Richko. He has interesting things to say about composing for video games, but just as importantly, there is some pretty awesome music embedded in the article. I suggest giving it a listen if you haven’t yet!

Thursday - September 04, 2014

Telepath Tactics - August Development Update

by Couchpotato, 05:53

The next development update for Telepath Tactics was posted this week. As usual I can't list every detail of the update so visit the link above for more information.

Another month, another update on Telepath Tactics!

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what’s new in the game, I thought I’d share something neat with you all. While visiting my dad earlier this summer, it came up during conversation that he had actually tried being an independent game developer. I had no memory of this (I was a baby at the time), but the fact that my dad had once tried to do something very similar to what I am now attempting came as a happy surprise. I guess it’s true what they say about the relative distance of apples and the trees they fall from!

Anyway, enough about me and my family–you’re here to find out more about what’s new with Telepath Tactics!

Saturday - August 23, 2014

Telepath Tactics - Turning Failure Into Success

by Couchpotato, 05:43

A website called Dice has a new article about how Craig Stern turned his failure on Kickstarter for Telepath Tactics into success on his second campaign.

When you ask random strangers on the Internet to give you money, there are no guarantees. That’s true in almost any scenario, including when video game developers use Kickstarter to crowdfund the creation of a game. While 3,900 or so games have been funded on Kickstarter, more than 7,200 game projects failed to hit their goal.

Within those two numbers are some people who fall into both categories: developers who failed to get funding on their first try, but re-launched campaigns and hit their goals. In fact, the initial failure is sometimes a necessary step toward ultimate glory.

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition. If you ask for $50,000 and receive only $40,000 in pledges, you get nothing. But there’s nothing stopping a developer from re-launching a project. If a significant number of people backed the project the first time around, they can be enlisted to provide an early boost to the sequel. The initial failure can also provide some valuable marketing lessons that tip the scales in your favor on the second try.

These are the lessons learned by developers such as Craig Stern of Chicago, who asked Kickstarter backers for $25,500 in late 2012 to make a tactical role-playing game called Telepath Tactics for Windows, Mac, and Linux. 840 people offered money, but he fell short with $18,615 pledged.

Tuesday - August 05, 2014

Telepath Tactics - July Development Update

by Couchpotato, 06:05

A new development update for Telepath Tactics was posted this week. As usual I can't list every detail of the update so visit the link above for more information.

Telepath Tactics July 2014 Update

Wow, is July gone already? I guess that means it’s time for another monthly update! Perhaps the single most exciting thing (from my perspective) that happened in July was “Tactics Jam,” a 6-hour intensive workshop I ran on how to mod Telepath Tactics. Basically, I gave a small group of Chicago game developers a guided introduction to using the map editor, and to editing data within the Telepath Tactics framework.

In essence, I think I’ve finally nailed one of my big goals with Telepath Tactics: to make it incredibly powerful and flexible for modders (to say nothing of developers who want to make their own, full-fledged games). Still, watching so many people work has helped motivate me to make a number of significant improvements to the map editor. The tools are good, but they can always be better!

Monday - July 07, 2014

Telepath Tactics - Impression @ RPGamer

by Couchpotato, 04:21

RPGamer has posted a new impression of Telepath Tactics, and talks about the latest comedy campaign add-on called Guard Llama.

Telepath Tactics has a lot going on under the hood to interest anyone who can get past the graphics and interface. Fans of tactical RPGs should keep an eye on this one--and the continued career of Lorenzo Llamas. Just because the full campaign is supposed to be more serious doesn't mean there isn't room for a wise-cracking llama with hooves of fire. He's a good llama.

Saturday - June 21, 2014

Telepath Tactics - Guard Llama Campaign

by Couchpotato, 04:59

Craig Stern of Sinister Design sent us news of a new campaign that he released for Telepath Tactics called Guard Llama.

Hello, RPG Watchers! I have released a new Telepath Tactics mini-campaign.

It's called Guard Llama. Against all probability, the guard llama is an actual thing that exists IRL; this is a short stand-alone Telepath Tactics campaign about a talking guard llama with delusions of grandeur.

Guard Llama takes place in a different universe than the main campaign; a much sillier universe. Guard Llama satirizes common RPG tropes, and pokes a bit of fun at Fire Emblem in particular.

I created Guard Llama over the course of a week and a half or so. It was originally intended as an entry in the IndiE3 Jam, but I decided to take a few extra days beyond the deadline and polish it up for release. It is now complete, and I have just sent it out to my Kickstarter backers and early access purchasers as a present!

Readers who want to try Guard Llama for themselves can head over to the official Telepath Tactics page and purchase early access.

Monday - June 02, 2014

Telepath Tactics - May Development Update

by Myrthos, 11:52

A new development update for Telepath Tactics is available, which contains amongst others updates on the following:

  • Throwing axes
  • New NPC sprites
  • New portraits
  •  New characters
  • New battles
  • New cut scenes
  • New music
  • NPC thieves that loot chests around the battlefield during the battle
  • A store where you can buy equipment for your army
  • Experience scaling and enemy leveling
  • A stand-alone tutorial
  • Big improvements to the game's dialog tree editor

Thursday - May 15, 2014

Telepath Tactics - Spring 2014 Teaser

by Couchpotato, 06:20

Craig Stern of Sinister Design has posted a new teaser trailer for Telepath Tactics. 


Tuesday - May 06, 2014

Telepath Tactics - April Development Update

by Myrthos, 12:46

The new development update for Telepath Tactics shows that Craig Stern has been busy polishing the game quite a bit. Here is the overview, but you have to view it on his site if you want to see the corresponsing images and videos as well.

  • New character portraits!
  • I took some more time to practice pixeling–this time, I edited the “cast” animation for the pyrokineticists, making them about 50% longer to bring them more in line with the animations for the photokineticists and skiakineticists.
  • We have two new battlefield objects: the village well and the caravan wagon!
  • I’ve now finished the (surprisingly time-consuming and laborious) work of spiffing up the character info boxes. Both summary and detailed info windows now feature graphical icons for Health, Energy and Movement, as well as a Star icon to denote characters whose death triggers defeat for their army.
  • I’ve put an especially large amount of work into the detailed character screens, which now display all of the character’s attacks and let you mouse over said attacks to see each attack’s name, element, cost, base damage and description. The detailed character info screen now also lets you scroll between characters on the same team using the mouse wheel (or the left and right arrow keys).
  • I have been taking the time to fill in audiovisual gaps in the attacks roster, ensuring that all skills have appropriate sound and visual effects. There are a few left to fill out, but the work is now mostly done.
  • As part of this task, I have now programmed effects for all four of the game’s ultimate elemental AOE attacks; I made some videos showing them off and discussing their uses, which you can see below:
  • As part of the work of making those big, flashy visual effects work with the game’s engine, I had to program in some new features for attack visual effects. In particular, this included forward/backward and left/right offsets for positioning visual effects relative to the target. I went through and added offsets to all visual effects which needed them (the element blast attacks in particular, which were spawning right on top of the caster instead of directly in front of him/her).
  • Attack reticles now calculate and display an attack’s chance to hit right below its eventual damage. Due to the deterministic nature of the game, this will usually be 100%, but it’ll give you a clear indication when that dips below 100% due to things like Dodge, blindness, or attacking while standing on ice.
  • New script actions: AddTag, RemoveTag and AddTagToArmy allow you to dynamically change characters’ tags over the course of a battle (thus allowing you to script changes in AI behavior, among other things). FlipPortrait, too: this tells the game to flip the direction of a character’s portrait so it looks like they’ve turned around.
  • Added one last character attribute to the game: charY. This one tells the game where to vertically position characters and objects within the space. I had previously had this function hard-coded into the game, but it was starting to get laborious carving out exceptions, and would not have given modders the necessary flexibility to do total graphical conversions, so I took the time to make this a user-editable attribute.
  • New attacks! Consistent with my giving photokineticists Blinding Cloak last month, I’ve now given skiakineticists Fury (raises a character’s Strength), cryokineticists Douse (ends Burning status and raises Heat resistance), and pyrokineticists Melt (ends Frozen status and raises Cold resistance).
  • I’ve updated prior battles and cut scenes. Among other things, I finished the battle at Adelbrae, and have updated another battle with a pressure trigger that damages characters who wander into a campfire. (This required fixing a bug that found its way into the code which was preventing pressure triggers from working properly.)
  • I have now added a new battle into the game where you defend a caravan from attack, with two NPC characters you can talk to and potentially recruit into your army (assuming you make it to them before the enemy overwhelms them).
  • Updated documentation in the game manual for script actions DamageChar, DamageCharAt, RemoveConv and RemoveCurrConv.
  • Other minor aesthetic changes concerning doors, fences and gates, plus some balancing changes to certain characters and objects in-game.
  • Updated the map editor updated so it now preserves triggers, tags and lighting attributes within <Unit> tags in maps.
  • I’ve added in some failsafes so the game no longer freezes if you accidentally use a MoveChar script action with a character that doesn’t exist on the battlefield.
  • Fixed a lot of bugs, as per usual–though some of the bugs fixed this time around were particularly serious, including a few which had crept into the game’s AI routines and were degrading the quality of CPU decision-making (as well as occasionally causing the game to break).

All in all, I ended up spending longer than anticipated on polish this month. I’ve been taking my time creating new content so that everything that makes it into the game is really good, polished work–but with that said, I admit that it’s going somewhat more slowly than I’d like. I am going to try to spend less time polishing during the coming month and more time just creating battles and cut scenes.


Wednesday - April 16, 2014

Telepath Tactics - March Development Update

by Myrthos, 12:26

In the March update of Telepath Tactics, we learn that the game has been Greenlit and are presented with the many updates of the game.

  • New portraits!
  • The Axe attack is now fully animated for both the male and female Bandit!
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  • The villager NPCs now all have walk animations; which is to say, they’re all complete!
  • We have a talented new animator by the name of Hunter Russell doing some of the larger effect animations for us. So far, he’s adapted the Mind Shield animation for Big Shield, created a Feedback animation, and produced a suitably epic Dark Vortex effect animation. (Click the images below to see the animations in motion.)
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  • Related to the new, big effects animations, I’ve added a couple of new spawn settings for big AOE attack visual effects: OnCenter and TowardCenter.
  • The game now supports gender randomization in single player, so you can have characters randomly spawn as either male or female in battle.
  • I’ve created a few new attacks to make the Shadowling, Bandit and Photokineticist classes more interesting and give them more room for growth in single player. Shadowlings can learn to create hallucinatory decoys that attract enemy attacks; Bandits can learn to use throwing axes and rend armor; and Photokineticists can boost allies’ dodge percentage by blanketing them in blinding light. Pretty cool stuff, eh?
  • I’ve made more progress on polishing the interface! I’ve replaced the default OS mouse cursor with some nice custom cursors that change based on what you’re mousing over (making it easy to see what can be grabbed and what should be clicked); I’ve added little “Equipped” symbols to the inventory screen to easily show which items are equipped at a glance; we’ve completed revisions on attack button icons and created new icons for the new attacks mentioned above; attack buttons now have hotkey visual indicators showing which attack hotkey selects each; pop-up indicators now handle unusual attack effects better; and best of all, we’ve finally replaced those ugly beige “tooltip” boxes with some properly scaling bitmap pop-up boxes that look far more pleasing to the eye.
  • You can now assign tags and lighting to individual characters on a per-battle basis in the same way you’d assign triggers. This includes the new AI tag Passive, which tells a particular character to stand around until an enemy wanders into aggro range, Fire Emblem-style. This can provide some variety in enemy behavior and help pace different battles differently so they aren’t all just the entire enemy army bum rushing you every time.
  • The deployment screen now has a button that opens the common inventory, letting you manage your army’s inventory and equipment before battle starts.
  • New dialog scripts: PlayLoop plays an ambient sound loop seamlessly in the background; KillCharAt slays a character at designated coordinates (to be used for finishing off characters without unique names that have triggered an OnDeath conversation / death monologue).
  • New battle condition Go First lets you designate an army to move first in single player. (For those special occasions where the enemy or an allied army should get to move before the player!)
  • We’ve finished mastering and mixing a bunch of the game’s music; these tracks are sounding really nice now! I’ve also made it so the game plays the horribly sad track “Frozen Hearts” when you lose a battle in single player (you know, in case you didn’t already feel bad enough about losing). Only four tracks remain to be composed.
  • I’ve updated the map editor so it formats map files to be more easily human-readable when it saves them.
  • I’ve updated scripting and features documentation in the manual.
  • Story and character work is progressing well. I now have sketched out 16 unique playable characters you can recruit and field in battle, as well as 12 unique villains / bosses. The official campaign now has 8 working scenes and three battles, with many more to come. I don’t think I quite hit my goal of getting the first hour of the game done, but I ended up needing to add more features to the game to get everything working how I wanted it to than anticipated. All in all, I think I used my time well.

Tuesday - March 04, 2014

Telepath Tactics - New Development Update

by Couchpotato, 06:04

Craig Stern sent news he posted his February development update for his game Telepath Tactics. Here is a small part of it, and be sure to click the link for the full update.

Telepath Tactics February 2014 Update

Hello, tactics fans! With February behind us, it’s time to recap everything we got done on Telepath Tactics during the month

I’ve finally decided to try my hand at pixel animation. With two hours of effort, I was able to produce a decent little “power up” effect for use with character buff abilities (shown on the right). While I was at it, I also created a couple of new item graphic variations for use in the campaign.

Most attacks that need visual effects have now had them added in-game, and are just looking really really nice.The Bandit class now has walk animations in all four directions.

I wanted to have more original character and effect animations done this month, but our main animator, the eminently talented Tyvon Thomas, took some time off to release his own game: Joylancer. (You can check that out here if you’re curious.) We should be back on track and have the Bandit attack animations done this coming month.

We managed to finish up all of the attack animations for the game’s nearly two-dozen alternate gender sprites! Thanks to the tireless efforts of Lan Giniewski, 19 of the game’s 22 character classes now have complete sets of fully animated sprites in both male and female variations.

The biggest undertaking this month has been continuing my mission from last month, cleaning up the game’s interface and replacing placeholder assets with polished work. We’re still not quite done, but we’ve made some excellent progress on that front.

Because we now have all gender variant sprites and portraits, I was able to code support for randomized gender into the game. Character gender is now randomized in multiplayer, so you’ll likely end up with a different combination of men and women under your command each time.

I’ve created the introduction to the game, consisting of the first five scenes and battles of the main campaign; I’m quite pleased with how that has turned out .

Saturday - February 15, 2014

Telepath Tactics - How to Speak Lissit

by Couchpotato, 05:07

Sinister Design has a new update for Telepath Tactics about the games language Lissit.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Today, in honor of the Day of Love, we are going to learn how to speak the most romantic language of all time: Lissit! (Or “lizardtongue,” as it is sometimes called by the humans of Cera Bella.)

Tuesday - February 04, 2014

Telepath Tactics - January Development Update

by Myrthos, 11:17

Craig twittered there was some news on the development of Telepath Tactics, which is still scheduled to be released this year.

  • New character portraits! Fun fact: as of today, Telepath Tactics now has 77 distinct character portraits, with dozens more to come!
  • We’ve created a new character class, the Bandit! Bandits wield axes, and will serve as early game enemies in the main campaign.
  • Alternate gender sprites now all have Rest and Walk animations! Giving them attack animations will come next.
  • We’re continuing work on special effects for attacks in the game. Mind Blast and Mental Effect effects are now completed, as well as Elemental Blast effects.
  • Work is continuing on the main campaign. The game now has more than two dozen unique characters (allies, enemies and NPCs) written up, with plenty of more to come, as well as about a half dozen scenes introducing characters, establishing the plot, and setting up battles. I’m now working on building the first hour or so of the main campaign based on those scripts; I’m aiming to have that finished and playable by the end of the month.
  • We’re prettying up the user interface, replacing the placeholder art from earlier in the game’s development with lovely work by actual artists. On the right, you can see the band-spanking-new Actions Menu, plus a few of the game’s new button icons!
  • As part of my ongoing effort to polish the heck out of the game, I’ve recoded the combat animations system to remove that annoying little lag between the moment an attack animation seems to hit and the moment the game actually shakes the screen, pops up damage numbers, and animates the health bar. It makes everything feel much tighter.
  • We’ve recorded some live instruments for the game soundtrack; the soundtrack itself is mostly finished now. You can hear part of a Telepath Tactics battle track, “For Honor,” in the video above!)
  • Lots of bug fixes. (Because when isn’t that an item in these updates?)

Additional details including images can be found in his blog, which also talks about his funds being low. For those who haven't yet, you can still contribute here by participating in the alpha program for Telepath: Tactics.

Monday - February 03, 2014

Telepath Tactics - Development Update

by Couchpotato, 02:41

Sinister Design has an update from last month that I missed for Telepath Tactics.

With the game engine’s core features now done, I’m spending my time more-or-less exclusively on writing and level design. I don’t want to share too many details of these activities in the monthly round-ups, as (a) they contain loads of spoilers and (b) I want to leave myself room to rewrite and revise as I move forward.

It’s 2014 now; people have been pressing for a specific release date, and while I definitely still plan on a 2014 release, I just want to make clear that there is no way to know for certain when the game is going to be ready. In an ideal world, Telepath Tactics will be finished and released in autumn of this year. However, game dev is ever an unpredictable beast, and it could turn out to take longer. I’ll be updating you all right here on my progress every month, so there shouldn’t be any crazy surprises.

Wednesday - December 25, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Post-Funding Update #17

by Couchpotato, 03:12

In the latest post-funding update for Telepath Tactics Craig Stern takes a look back the development of the game throughout 2013.

Taking stock at the end of 2013

Greetings, faithful backers! As we approach the end of 2013, I thought you might like to hear a little summary of the state of Telepath Tactics. The short version: things are going quite well!

The long version:

  • We have completed all of the game's expanded tilesets.
  • We have completed all of the game's destructible object graphics.
  • We have completed all of the engine features needed to finish the game.
  • Character portraits are complete for all of the game's generic and NPC characters, and we're now well into the portraits for the game's stable of unique characters. Here are a couple of unique characters you might already be familiar with!
  • All of the game's 22 base character classes are fully animated! You can see the Mentalist and Stone Golem here, and the Spirit and Bronze Golem here. Also, just for fun, here's the Skiakineticist mustering the corrosive powers of Shadow!
  • Of the 19 character classes that need a gender variant sprite, 8 now have one. (We're working on the rest right now!)
  • I've hired someone to produce some nice pixel art icons for the game's buttons, including unique icons for each of the game's 105-or-so different attacks.
  • The game's soundtrack is getting close to complete! Tireless composer Ryan Richko has managed to call in some favors, and will be recording live instrumentation with a small group of orchestral musicians in early 2014 to make it sound extra epic.
  • I've been working on adding attack sound effects to the game; most of the basic ones are now in and working.
  • I've been reworking the cast of characters and fleshing them out with an eye to how each fits into the evolving narrative of the game. I've got 5 confirmed boss characters and 12 other uniques so far, with plenty more to come!

So that is where we're at. Telepath Tactics is coming along well, and remains on track for a 2014 release.

Tuesday - November 05, 2013

Telepath Tactics - October Update

by Couchpotato, 00:37

Sinister Designs Craig Stern sent news that he has a new update for Telepath Tactics.

Howdy! I just posted the latest of my monthly updates on Telepath Tactics--you can check it out here.

I'm just about finished adding features to the game engine; I'm now shifting gears and focusing on content and creating the game's main campaign.

I've also included some more personal thoughts about what I want to do with game design going forward based on my experiences working on the game full-time over the past 4 months; you can find that at the bottom of the post.

We're doing quite well on Steam Greenlight right now, but I'd really like to make it that final 7% of the way into the top 100 and seal the deal. Every upvote helps!

Thursday - October 03, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Post-Funding Update #16

by Couchpotato, 00:14

Telepath Tactics has a new post-funding update giving a status update about the games development.

Hey guys! It's been a little while since my last Kickstarter update, but rest assured that I've been working hard on Telepath Tactics in the interim. (The last few monthly updates on the Sinister Design website should attest to that!)

I've got a little more than one month left in my sabbatical from my day job, and with pretty much all the game's big features all in-game and working (including random dungeon generation), I'm looking to use my remaining time off to focus on building out the single player campaign. That means that folks who contributed at "Be an NPC" or "Be a Villain" tiers should expect to hear from me sometime in the next couple of months.

In the meantime, I've updated the alpha build of the game with loads of new assets, features, bug fixes, and interface improvements, so Early Access Backers should feel free to update their versions of the game. (Just use the same link you received from me back in the spring.)

Once I head back to work, I'll be back to working on this in the evenings and weekends--but that's pretty much par for the course. We're still on target to get this sucker finished and released in 2014.

Monday - September 09, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Pax Gameplay Demo

by Couchpotato, 00:51

RPGamer has a new gameplay video from Pax Prime 2013 for Telepath Tactics.

The Indie Mega Booth videos continue. This time, Craig Stern from Sinister Design shows us Telepath Tactics. He also saves us from being slaughtered by the computer.

Wednesday - August 21, 2013

Telepath Tactics - CPU Fight on Tavern Map Video

by Couchpotato, 00:20

Sinister Design released a new video for Telepath Tactics on the games Official Youtube Channel.

Here is a little snippet of a 4-army, CPU-controlled fight on the new multiplayer Tavern map in Telepath Tactics.

Saturday - August 03, 2013

Telepath Tactics - July Development Update

by Couchpotato, 00:18

Sinister Design has sent us news of a new blog update for Telepath Tactics with the latest monthly update.

Hello, folks, and welcome to another monthly update on my progress creating Telepath Tactics! I’m now 3/4ths of the way into my first month of working on this full-time due to my sabbatical from work, and I’m pleased to report that it is awesome. I love the freedom of setting my own schedule–but more than that, I love how much I’m getting done each day. It’s terribly satisfying. I consider this tentative proof of my long-standing suspicion that full-time indie dev would be great for me.

Thursday - July 18, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Post-Funding update #15, Development Update

by Myrthos, 12:57

Craig Stern provides a development update for Telepath: Tactics at the Kickstarter page, in which he also let's us know that he is working on the game full-time now.

Hello, gentle backers! We're almost at the three month-iversary of successfully funding Telepath Tactics, and so I figured I'd give you fine folks an update on the game.

In short, development on Telepath Tactics has been proceeding smoothly. As promised, I've hired artists to create music, character portraits, item graphics, new character animations, objects and tilesets, and so on. So that's all underway and going well. I've also been coding a lot of features and polishing rough edges, which you can read about in the last few monthly updates.

Also: I just last week began a sabbatical from my day job to work on Telepath Tactics full-time. This has been going extremely well so far! I'm in a co-op working space with several fellow Chicago developers, including The Men Who Wear Many Hats (you might know them as the guys that made Organ Trail) and Greg Wohlwend (Ridiculous Fishing, Solipskier, Hundreds). Not surprisingly, working on the game full-time has meant that I am making much more rapid progress on the game's features, which is very satisfying for me.

For those of you who want regular updates on development, a reminder: I post about development frequently on the Developer's Log and on Twitter, and post monthly run-downs on the Sinister Design front page! (I believe you can get email notifications when I post the monthly run-downs by subscribing to the Sinister Design RSS feed.)

Tuesday - June 11, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Using Female Lead Characters

by Myrthos, 12:54

Craig Stern explains in a blog on his site why he is using female lead characters in Telepath Tactics, referring to amongst others the recent Tropes vs Women debate.

We tend go through life with a lot of unconscious assumptions about “the way women are” and “the way men are” ingrained in us. Inevitably, we are shaped by our social norms–and just as surely, we are shaped by the stories that we tell each other to justify those norms. There are observed psychological quirks in the human brain that play into this dynamic, things that show up over and over in studies, things with names like expectation confirmation and the just world hypothesis.

The bottom line is, it takes work–actual conscious effort–not to fall back on stereotypes when interacting with, thinking about, or writing about people from different groups. But that effort is important to make. The lazy route, merely writing what is expected, leads to predictable stories and characters that are nigh indistinguishable from the characters in other tales.

That need for effort applies equally to all characters regardless of their sex; however, the stakes are higher for those of us who would write female protagonists into our games. Female leads are comparatively rare, and are therefore subject to greater scrutiny when they do appear (see e.g. Lara Croft). There are a lot of well-intentioned people out there who will be sniffing around for any bad assumptions I’ve let slip through in my own attempts at writing female leads, and I fully expect that they will (quite justifiably) hold my feet to the fire for any such mistakes.

The question arises: is it worth all that extra pressure? Why not just write another game starring a male lead? My reasons follow.

This is followed by 4 reasons that motivated him in this direction.

Monday - June 03, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Interview @ Gamefront

by Myrthos, 13:06

Missed this interview with Craig Stern from over a week ago that Game Front had with Craig Stern on Telepath: Tactics.

Fire Emblem is as serious as stories get, while Disgaea is quite the opposite. Telepath Tactics has been compared favorably to both games, so where on the spectrum would you place the game’s setting?

The Telepath setting is serious and bound up in political struggles, so it’s definitely more on the Fire Emblem side of things. That said, it’s also more contemporary than Fire Emblem.

My personal view is that if you’re going to create a fantasy world with analogs to the real world, then you have a responsibility to craft the message in a way that shows you’re actually thinking critically about those analogs. In the Telepath series, I make an effort to address current issues like sexism, the exploitation of labor, the corrupting influence of money in politics, and the consequences of commingling church and state.

Fire Emblem is pretty retrograde, in that you’re nearly always playing as a prince fighting to save his kingdom from an external threat. While most Fire Emblem characters belong to classes relating to their battlefield roles, the main character belongs to the “Lord” class. He’s the only character whose class relates to his socioeconomic status, and he’s the only character whose death triggers a game over. Literally everyone is expendable except for the rich guy. It’s weirdly archaic and classist if you think about it.

That said, Intelligent Systems do manage to slip in some good social commentary here and there: I particularly liked the commentary on racism in Path of Radiance.

Telepath Tactics - May Update

by Myrthos, 13:03

Craig Stern has provided us with a new update on the status of the development for Telepath: Tactics. It lists a whole range of changes that have been made to the game.

Welcome to another monthly update on Telepath Tactics! Today, we’ll be summing up everything that happened in May. First and perhaps most importantly, I just submitted Telepath Tactics to Indiecade. Most of the past few weeks have been spent polishing the game and stamping out bugs in anticipation of that submission, but I’ve continued adding new content and features to the game as well.

The changes:

  • There is now an exploration mode in the game! This turns off player turns and allows the player to move characters freely around the map. (This can be used to create freely explorable towns and puzzle areas.)
  • There’s a new dialog trigger, OnTalk, which allows player-initiated conversations (via the “Talk” command) when two particular characters are adjacent. In battle, this works just like the Talk command in Fire Emblem; and in exploration mode, it works just like talking in your standard-issue jRPG or wRPG.
  • We’ve got a bunch of great new art assets! Both the Castle and Town tilesets have been significantly expanded by Lorne Whiting, there are a lot of item graphics in progress by Julia Buge, and there are a bunch of great new attack animations from Tyvon Thomas

Check out the link for a complete list of changes.

Wednesday - May 29, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Preview @ IndieGameInsider

by Couchpotato, 00:19

IndieGameInsider posted a brief preview for Telepath Tactics based on some hands-on time with the title.

The only thing that bothered me during my experience with Telepath Tactics was the story for the single-player campaign. Reading the text, the story seems to be fine, but it’s presented in a very bland fashion. Text boxes merely appear over characters’ heads to display what they are speaking; no sprite image next to the text box or any kind of extra flavor is displayed. This turned me off at a few sections, and I often found myself just skipping through walls of text to get to playing the actual game. This issue I do not think will drastically affect the game in the long haul, mainly because of Craig’s reiterated focus on multiplayer, and, with mod support, that could very well provide dozens of user-created campaigns that do not share this problem.

Overall, I am deeply satisfied with Telepath Tactics considering it’s only in early alpha. Its smart AI and reliance on skill make it a satisfying experience that really captivates a player. Destructible environments, mod support, and a lengthy single-player campaign is more than enough to provide for a solid tactical RPG game, but the addition of multiplayer really makes Telepath Tactics stand out. It’s a simple but amazing game that has great potential to be a hit with fans of the genre. If Sinister Design can deliver the multiplayer Fire Emblem-esque game that fans have dreamed of, it will surely be a must-play experience. You can visit the Telepath Tactics Steam Greenlight page to vote for it to come to the popular digital distribution platform if it sounds like Telepath Tactics is up your alley.

Thursday - April 18, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update # 11 & 12

by Couchpotato, 00:43

Telepath Tactics has two more updates for there kickstarter. First lets give them congratulations for being funded.

Telepath Tactics funded!

I couldn't have asked for a better result, really. I'm exceptionally grateful for all the support you guys have shown, and I'm looking forward to getting this game done for you!

I've had several requests for a way to contribute now that the Kickstarter campaign is done; I'm going to set up a system using BMT Micro (which accepts Paypal) over on the Sinister Design website. When that is up and running, I'll let everyone know.

I'm going to send out the first batch of backer rewards over the next few weeks. (Among other things, I still have a few more changes I want to make to the game before I send it out to early access backers.) Keep an eye on your email, folks!

And the next update.

 "When will I be charged?"

Hey guys! Here's a quick update on why you haven't been charged for your pledge yet.

Ordinarily, Kickstarter pledges are charged as soon as a campaign ends successfully. However, people were reporting that they hadn't been charged, so I called up Amazon Payments yesterday evening to find out if there was a problem. An Amazon rep confirmed to me that a bug had screwed things up on their end; he assured me that they're working to fix it right now, and I should be getting an email from them later today or tomorrow.

Earlier today, Kickstarter's Head of Community Cindy Au was nice enough to contact them herself and confirm that that is indeed what happened; she says the bug should be fixed within a couple of days.

So, long story short: if you haven't been charged yet for your pledge, don't worry! Amazon will make that happen within the next few days. Just make sure to leave enough money in your account so the pledge goes through; I'd hate for any of you to get hit with overdraft charges!

As for me, I'll be posting updates in the comments section if there are any new developments. Thanks for your patience!


Sunday - April 14, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #9, Craig answers your questions!

by Couchpotato, 14:53

In update #9 from Telepath Tactics kickstarter Craig Stern answers various questions.

Hey guys!

First, we have an exciting tidbit of campaign news: we've hit our third stretch goal! This means that procedural level generation is going to be supported in the game, which is pretty darn exciting. I'm not planning to use this too much in the main campaign (I want the main campaign to be a tightly focused, hand-crafted experience), but there should definitely be some room to use it for optional side missions. (Plus, I just know that modders are going to make some really awesome stuff with it once I have it in-game!)

Second, we have another piece of exciting campaign news: we're roughly $3,000 away from the "branching campaign" stretch goal! If we hit this one, I'll be adding a significant decision to the campaign that branches it in two directions, each with its own unique missions. We still have 62 hours to hit this one. We can definitely make it!

And now, on to the meat of the update. I got a really enthusiastic response from that last update where I talked about the Lissit (it turns out that people care about little things like "lore" and "world-building." Who knew?!) So last night, I took all of your questions from below that update and made a brand new video answering them all.

Two things to note before you watch:

(1) I used my webcam, which apparently ignores my high quality mic in favor of the lousy one built in to the webcam. Sorry for that! I did try to spice it up a bit by adding in some art.

(2) When I made this video, we still hadn't hit our third stretch goal. (We then went on to hit it, of course, which is pretty awesome.)

All right, enough disclaimers. Here's the video!

Friday - April 12, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #8, The Lissit

by Myrthos, 09:44

Update number 8 for Telepath Tactics shows us the lizardman, also known as The Lissit.

Hey guys! I've been posting all these updates about the features of Telepath Tactics (which I'm still working on, by the way)--but what about the world of Telepath Tactics? I could stand to talk about that some more, couldn't I.

So let's talk about one of the major races of the setting of Telepath Tactics: the Lissit.

The Lissit are a tall, physically imposing, reptilian race with a strong resemblance to bipedal komodo dragons. (In many populations, male Lissit have been known to grow frills around their heads, used in courtship displays with Lissit females.)

Like most reptiles, Lissit are ectotherms, reliant on their surroundings to regulate their body temperature. As such, they stick almost exclusively to warm or temperate climes with lots of direct sunlight; they universally avoid the frigid southern isles of the Dundar Archipelago. Their lack of internal temperature regulation makes the Lissit particularly vulnerable to heat- and cold-based attacks.

Lissit are natural predators; they regularly hunt wild pigs and deer for food. Although Lissit can run at a top speed of 20 miles per hour, they generally prefer to hunt through stealth. Lissit eat by tearing flesh with their teeth; their loosely hinged jaws allow them to swallow smaller prey whole as well, though this is frowned upon, as it prevents the hunter from sharing the meat with the rest of the clan.

Despite some of their more brutal tendencies, the Lissit are actually highly intelligent and organized, and speak their own language* (referred to by humans as "lizardtongue.") They are generally wary of humans due to past conflicts over land and resources. The Lissit refer to humans somewhat derisively as "hesh" (which translates literally to "hair" or "fur," and has a connotation roughly equivalent to "walking mound of hair").

Tuesday - April 09, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #7, Changing Conditions in Battle

by Myrthos, 12:58

In a short update for the Telepath Tactics Kickstarter (just $4K away from their next stretch goal) Craig Stern is showing what the results are of his work on being able to spontaneously change battlefield conditions using scripts. In the video you can see changes to fog of war, lighting, and weather triggered over the course of a single turn.

In addition also a music clip is available to be used in some of the boss battles.


Wednesday - April 03, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #6, Dungeons, Q&A and Map Editor

by Myrthos, 18:05

Update #6 for Telepath Tactics teaches us that the dungeons stretch goal has been reached. Also Craig Stern answers some questions:

  • Can you create single player battles with more than 2 armies?

Yes! That is already supported in the game. You can have a single player campaign battle between 3 different armies--or 4, 5, or 6, for that matter.

  • Can you make different armies ally with one another?

Yes! What's more, the AI knows how to cooperate with allied armies, and will do so if you set up multiple armies in an alliance with each other. (That's true for both single player and multiplayer, incidentally.)

  • Can you give human players control of more than one army in single player?

Yes! If you want to create a mission where the player fights alongside allied armies, you have the option to make those armies CPU-controlled or player-controlled. (You can also make enemy armies player-controlled if you so desire.)

  • Can you make it so a campaign's plot branches based on whether a specific character survives a battle?

Yes! That's just one of the many, many cool things you can do with the scripting system in Telepath Tactics (and one possibility for how the main campaign could branch if we hit our fourth stretch goal).

  • Is it possible to have certain characters get player-directed stat gains on level up instead of randomly chosen stat gains?


And there is a video of the map editor.

Thursday - March 28, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #5, Dungeons are Getting Close

by Myrthos, 12:58

Craig Stern is back from PAX and had the following to say on Telepath Tactics:

Hey guys! I'm back from PAX East, where I spent three days straight getting interviewed by various journalists, grabbing random passersby to play the alpha demo, and handing out roughly 700* business cards (*that's an actual estimate, not hyperbole). I'm still not fully recovered, but heck if that's going to stop me from posting an update!

Now, things always slow down when Kickstarter campaigns move into their middle two weeks, but we're actually doing very well despite that fact. Prominent Youtubers TotalBiscuit and NorthernLion are working on impressions videos of the game, I'm sending out preview builds to interested journalists, and...well, let's just say that I'm genuinely feeling really good about our prospects as we move into the second week of this campaign.

Thanks to your generosity, we're currently sitting pretty at $24,690 pledged, which leaves us only $3,310 away from having proper dungeons in Telepath Tactics. Traps, buttons, levers, openable doors, stone blocks and pressure plates--I don't know about you, but I'm actually pretty excited about this one!

Mind you, I'm not just excited about the tactical and level design possibilities that proper dungeon functionality opens up for Telepath Tactics: I'm also excited about how this could intersect with the third stretch goal. The third stretch goal is procedural level generation. Just think about that for a second. Dungeons, procedural level generation; dungeons, procedural level generation. Is it just me, or is there is a distinct possibility that Telepath Tactics could end up with the capacity to generate unique, procedural dungeons filled with monsters, puzzles, traps and treasure? Call me crazy, but I do believe that that could make for some legitimately entertaining optional side missions, and add a good bit of replayability to the main campaign in the process.

So that's where we're at: just $3,310 away from having proper dungeons, and the ability to procedurally generate them (along with other, more conventional battlefields) is now visible off on the horizon as well. What do we think, folks? Shall we press on? (My vote is for "Yes"!)

At the moment the Kickstarter is as $26,615, which is even closer to the $28,000 stretch goal.

Tuesday - March 26, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Hands-On @ Destructoid

by Myrthos, 12:55

Destructoid had a look at Telepath Tactics and mentioned things like this:

The game itself mixes the traditional SRPG elements that the fans know and love with some pretty interesting and fresh mechanics to keep it from feeling all too similar. Throwing and pushing enemies is possible, which makes a character's proximity to cliffs, water, and lava way more important.

It is also possible for certain classes to build bridge tiles, connecting two previously separated areas. It's a simple addition with complex implications. If the enemy can bridge two areas and get their fighters across in a single turn, you had better be ready.

I didn't get to play with any of the editing tools, but it looks like the map-editing tool will be easy to use and understand. Creating a new NPC or scripts seems a bit more complex, but you can always be like me and just appreciate the content that other, way more skilled people create. As if it wasn't wonderful enough that there is going to be an intense and classic SRPG on the PC, it's also playing to the platform's strength by including mod support!

Monday - March 25, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #4, The Next Stretch Goal

by Myrthos, 13:01

Craig Stern sends an update from PAX East on the stretch goals of Telepath Tactics. With the first already down we are heading to the second stretch goal at $28,000 (currently the Kickstarter is close to $23K).


The second stretch goal will allow me to commission an extra set of tiles and interactive object graphics, then code them all to create scriptable dungeon areas in Telepath Tactics. (Of course, the buttons and levers and other objects will work in any sort of scenario, not just a dungeon.)

Want a mission where you have to pull a lever in the gatehouse to open the door to an enemy keep? How about a mission where you have to slide blocks onto floor panels to open the door to a tomb while holding off enemy forces? Or perhaps side missions to loot dungeons under time pressure? I'm not saying these will necessarily be in the main campaign, but that gives you an idea of what's possible when we hit this stretch goal!

Also, I want to thank you all for backing the game; this campaign wouldn't be anything without you guys, and I'm terribly grateful for your support. Let's keep it up and smash through stretch goal #2!

Thursday - March 21, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #3, Character Classes

by Myrthos, 12:29

As the first stretch goal for Telepath Tactics is close (less than $400) and update was made providing some information for the 'Extra character classes with animated sprites' stretch goal.

Hey guys! First, a quick update on the campaign. As I write, there are 831 of you and we've raised $19,009. Thanks to all of you, we're now within striking distance of our first stretch goal: extra character classes with animated sprites! So let's talk more about that.

Extra character classes with animated sprites is exactly what it sounds like. There are loads of possibilities: axe-wielding bandits, more types of golems, lizardmen with bows, shadowling guardians, and so on. When we reach this stretch goal, I'll be able to afford to commission sprites for our extra classes with a full suite of high quality animations. At a minimum, this means greater enemy variety and a more interesting campaign!

But there's actually more that we can do with this. Remember the promotion systems from the old Shining Force and GBA Fire Emblem games? With this first stretch goal, I'll be able to commission variations on the default character class sprites and add character promotions to Telepath Tactics as well.

To sum up: we're now less than $3,000 away from having both class promotions and a greater variety of character classes in the game. I don't know about you guys, but I'm pretty pumped. Let's do this! (And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to leave 'em in the comments below.)

Sunday - March 17, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Funded

by Myrthos, 20:15

Craig Stern informed us that his Kickstarter for Telepath Tactics reached it's goal of $15K in just 3 days. So it is time for stretch goals

$22,000 - Extra Character Classes with Animated Sprites.
$28,000 - Dungeon Tileset with Traps, Openable Doors, Scripted Levers and Buttons.
$34,000 - Randomized Battlefield Generation.
$38,000 - Extra Branch in the Main Campaign.
$46,000 - Mobile Ports.


Thursday - March 14, 2013

Telepath: Tactics - A New Kickstarter Start

by Myrthos, 22:39

Craig Stern has started a new Kickstarter for Telepath:Tactics. The money he is asking for ($15K) is less than before and it looks like it will fly this time as almost half of that amount is already pledged.

Telepath Tactics is a turn-based tactical RPG in the tradition of Fire Emblem and Disgaea. Featuring mod support, a robust map editor, and a dialog editor, you can create your own campaigns and download others' off the internet!

On top of single player, Telepath Tactics also features 2-to-6 player local multiplayer matches (i.e. you and your friends playing together in the same room, Super Smash Brothers style).

Telepath Tactics is being developed for Windows, Mac and Linux.


Telepath Tactics takes place in a fantasy-steampunk universe that averts most of the tropes you're used to from these sorts of games. Magic doesn't exist: instead, there is psionics and steam-powered technology reliant on a volatile, crystalline substance called vibra. Cavalry don't ride horses: they ride giant, armored praying mantises. There are no elves, no dwarves, no goblins, no dragons. The world is populated by humans, steam-powered mechanical golems, and other, original races (such as the shadowlings, disembodied heads from the nether reaches of the earth that quite literally feed on human suffering).

Shadowlings were the first to discover the secrets of vibra mining. Crucial to powering steam tech, vibra turned out to be big business–and no place had it in greater concentrations than the Dundar Archipelago, a string of islands governed by the Roman-style Dundar Empire. The influx of moneyed interests to the islands has corroded the empire's adherence to democratic traditions, and the native human population now faces increasing exploitation as Dundar's politicians turn a blind eye.

If you want to learn more a demo is available for Linux, Mac and Windows.

Thanks Bob.

Sunday - December 30, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Failed to be Funded

by Myrthos, 23:25

As somewhat expected Telepath Tactics did not get funded and got stuck at $18.615 out of a $25.500 goal, but it will be back!

All right, guys! First thing's first: we didn't make our goal. That's unfortunate, but it's not nearly as bad as some folks think. You see, despite the fact that this campaign didn't "succeed," it was actually quite successful at spreading the word about the game. (How many of you knew about Telepath Tactics before this campaign started? Exactly.)

This campaign has also been extraordinarily successful for me, personally. I've gotten invaluable feedback about the sort of things you all care about in Telepath Tactics, and I've learned a whole heck of a lot about how to run a crowdfunding campaign. The next time I try this, we will make the goal! (Speaking of which: mark your calendars for March, folks!)

In the meantime, I'm going to keep on developing the game. To stay up-to-date on the development of Telepath Tactics (and snag any future demo updates):

Also, don't forget to keep telling your friends about Telepath Tactics: the more people there are who know about the game, the easier it'll be to make our goal when we make a second go of Kickstarting this sucker.

Thanks again for your support; see you in the Spring!

Saturday - December 29, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Update #12, Final Hours

by Dhruin, 11:35

There's literally a couple of hours left in Telepath Tactics' Kickstarter - currently $18k of $25k - quite a big ask but there's been a lot of last minute activity, so there's hope. If you are interested, this is absolutely your last chance:

As Swedish hair band Europe once said: "It's the final countdown!" (I can't type cheesy synths directly into an update, but if I could, I would do so right here.)

We're now in the middle of the final day for the Telepath Tactics Kickstarter. Over the course of this campaign, such luminaries as Brian Fargo and Kieron Gillen have pledged their support to the project. Today, I actually got a tweet from Julian Gollop--the brilliant designer behind the original X-COM--saying (and I quote): "Yes indeed I have heard of Telepath Tactics. I am seriously looking forward to it!" Holy hell, people. [...]

On a more mundane note: I've continued pressing forward with development, restructuring the way that dialog is formatted in Telepath Tactics to accommodate future support for multiple responses in dialog. In short: branching dialog and branching campaign support is just on the horizon! I've also added some really neat new features to the game, including predictive damage displays and point lighting. (You can see a screenshot of the point lighting in action below.)

Wednesday - December 26, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Update #11, Last Days

by Dhruin, 04:14

There's a new Telepath Tactics update as their Kickstarter campaign hits three days remaining ($13.5k/$25k). The demo has been updated with new features and Sinister Design promises a bonus mystery campaign as they try to achieve success:

As a sort of Christmas present to you all, I've gone ahead and updated the demo again, this time with requested features such as edge-of-screen panning (which you can turn on using the Options menu), a right-clickable Rotate button, and the ability to cycle back and forth through available characters using the mouse wheel.

Now, you've probably noticed that we're fast approaching the moment of truth for Telepath Tactics. I did a few quick calculations, and it turns out that we can meet the funding goal if 500 of us each contribute just an extra $25.

To that end, here's a quick reminder: if the campaign succeeds and you backed at or above the $25 level, you are guaranteed a DRM-free copy of the game from the moment the campaign ends, continuous updates throughout the game's development, and a free Steam key whenever the game's Greenlight campaign succeeds. Add $9 to that, and you're guaranteed a second copy of the game to do with as you please! Just something to keep in mind if you're a $10 backer.

Friday - December 21, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Passes $11k

by Dhruin, 23:10

Sinister Design points out their Kickstarter for Telepath Tactics has passed the $11k milestone, so there's certainly reasonable interest, but they have a big mountain to climb to reach $25k in 7 days. Here's the lastest update, which also has a new reward offer:

Hey, folks! We're entering the last week of the campaign now. We've raised nearly $11,000 for Telepath Tactics, and are closing in on 600 backers. I'm happy for the support that every last one of you has shown the game so far: it means a lot to me personally, and has helped motivate me to focus on making this game as awesome as humanly possible!

We're currently less than $15,000 away from the funding goal, with 7 days to go. It will take some doing to meet the goal, but it's hardly impossible--remember, Sportsfriends raised its final $20,000 in the last day of its campaign! We just need to pull in some larger backers to make it happen for us here.

To help out, my friend Lars Doucet--creator of the excellent RPG Defender's Quest--has generously donated 200 copies of both Defender's Quest and the (also excellent) Defender's Quest soundtrack for me to give away. So here's the deal: the first 200 backers to pledge at or above $100 will get a free copy of both Defender's Quest and the Defender's Quest soundtrack on top of all other rewards!

There are already 12 backers in the $100-and-up category, which means that there are 188 spots left for folks to participate in the giveaway. Come and get it before they're all snatched up!

Wednesday - December 19, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Interview @ Rampant Coyote

by Dhruin, 23:29

Our favourite Coyote has interviewed Craig Stern from Sinister Design about Telepath Tactics, which is 2/3 through its Kickstarter campaign:

Rampant Coyote: For those who have played tactics games in the past – your own games, or Band of Bugs or the like on the PC, or games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea on consoles and handhelds – what would really make them stand up and take notice of Telepath Tactics? While the PC isn’t exactly overwhelmed with strategy RPGs these days, what features really set Telepath Tactics apart?

Craig: First, as you point out, games like this are very rare on PC. That’s reason enough to support the game all on its own, I think!

Beyond that, though, Telepath Tactics stands alone in terms of features. It has extensive mod support with support for custom single player campaigns, which means that the game could theoretically have a limitless supply of new content flooding in for years to come. As far as I’m concerned, this will be a game to keep on your hard drive until the day you die.

The combat engine itself, in turn, is what happens if you take all that advice (1, 2, 3) I’ve been writing up on SinisterDesign.net over the past year and a half and actually put it into practice. Telepath Tactics is highly deterministic, with straightforward rules that combine in interesting ways to create a huge possibility space. To restate that in plain English: attacks do not have a chance to “miss,” damage is 100% predictable, and there are a lot of easy-to-grasp mechanics that make things interesting: elevation effects; environmental hazards; the ability to push, pull and throw characters; destructible and dynamic scenery; counterattacks; status effects; elemental weaknesses and resistances; character energy that regenerates when resting; up to eight attacks per character; AOE attacks; variable range attacks; movement abilities; backstab bonuses; sidestab bonuses; the ability to create bridges and barricades; explosive satchels that you can place and detonate; random item drops; and so on.

On top of all that, Telepath Tactics has local multiplayer. I’ve actually thrown parties where my friends come over and we play matches, and I can attest that it’s a lot of fun.

Monday - December 17, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Update #9, Demo Update

by Myrthos, 12:26

Telepath Tactics could use a bit more backing being at 9.4K out of the 25.5K that was asked and 12 more days to go. If you are in doubt if you should back this game maybe the updated demo might be something worth trying.

Hello, everyone! Thanks to all the great feedback you guys provided after I first released the demo, I've decided to update it with a whole bunch of bug fixes, improvements, features, and an entirely new battle at the end of the demo!

Wednesday - December 12, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Update #8, All about MP

by Dhruin, 22:06

In Update #8 for Telepath Tactics' Kickstarter, Sinister Design discusses multiplayer in their strategy/RPG:

Telepath Tactics began life as a multiplayer game, and that remains the portion of the game closest to completion. Local multiplayer, a rare and important feature, has been fully functional (and really fun!) in Telepath Tactics for months now.

In the video below, I walk through the numerous customization options that go into a local multiplayer match (free-for-all vs. teams, army composition rules, fog of war, etc.) and play a 2 vs. 2 match with one CPU ally against two CPU opponents. 

Tuesday - December 11, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Preview @ Indie Game Mag

by Myrthos, 15:42

Telepath Tactics the game which is currently aiming to reach its goal of 25.5K on Kickstarter has been previewed by Indie Game Mag based on the recently released alpha demo.

The game starts with a brief introduction to the plot done via scrolling text before setting the scene with some of the main characters in a brief introduction of the characters. All in all the story does not develop greatly in the demo, but this is largely due to the demo being limited to only a few level, with most of them tutorial based you only get a brief feel for the gameplay.

Although the demo does have a distinctly slow pace it guides you through all the basics more than adequately. The pace can be compared to that of someone being first taught Chess and equally as necessary. This becomes apparent when you play the game as there are a lot of subtleties in the characters and the ways in which every piece interacts. Although you learn very quickly from your mistakes and when you leave your flank open to be backstabbed by the enemy, you do learn to always rotate your characters appropriately.

All the small subtleties in the game make for a game that may look quite basic and straightforward on the surface but is actually very deep and engaging. You do have to constantly think ahead, and figure out the best route for that particular scenario. This is where the static nature of the characters really comes into full bloom, as you are able to begin planning where they will be and how they will get there. You can anticipate damage and find ways to counter times you let your guard down, really the level of strategy possible is endless.

Friday - December 07, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Demo Impressions

by Myrthos, 22:25

Indie Statik has been playing the alpha demo of Telepath Tactics and wrote their first impressions based on their playthrough of the single available scenario.

Overall, the scenario doesn’t do much to show those really cool moments (and tactics, of course) that its Kickstarter page hints at. You can win by killing one unit, the enemy general, and doing so only takes a little more than ten turns if you rush him. You have to play in a very unnatural way to set up the interesting abilities, rather than just use your lame bowman and crossbowman to kill everything from a few spaces away while your swordsmen tank. The scenario starts with building a bridge in order to cross a river, but you would hope for sneakier and subtler ways to use this ability. You actually can’t reach the enemy unless you use your engineer to lay some path down across the river.

But one demo scenario is a silly way to judge games in this genre. RPGs are about characters persisting and changing through the game: grabbing items, leveling and developing as characters in a story. Telepath Tactics is promising a lot, and I’m excited to see whether it can deliver. This is one to watch, and it definitely needs the Kickstarter money to give it the depth that it deserves.

Telepath Tactics - Kickstarter Update #7, Stretch Goals

by Myrthos, 22:05

In update 7 of Teleapth Tactics stretch goals and new rewards are announced.

$35,000 - Mobile Ports
$45,000 - Choices and Consequences$50,000 - Dungeon tilesets and objects
$80,000 - Dedicated Linux Port
$100,000 - Phoenix-like rebirth as a wRPG!

To make sure that pledging at a higher level is worth your while, I've decided to sweeten the pot a bit. First, I'm throwing in free copies of my past games for folks able and willing to give a little extra:

  • In addition to your normal rewards, everyone who pledges at or above $40 will now receive a free copy of Telepath Psy Arena 2, an addictive tournament-style tactics game with team management, challenge matches, randomly generated training battles, and 10 leagues filled with fights that will test your tactical skill!
  • On top of that, everyone who pledges at or above $100 will also get a free copy of my last game, Telepath RPG: Servants of God, a Middle East steampunk tactical wRPG about oppression, democracy, God, and the nature of knowledge. (That game normally costs $25 all on its own, so this is a pretty killer value!)

And finally, a gentle reminder about the bump-up bonus:

  • Whatever you choose to pledge, bump it up by $9 to get another copy of Telepath Tactics for a friend. (That's a 10% discount off the price of the game!) You'll be glad you did this when the game comes out and you have someone you know to battle with. ;)

Thursday - December 06, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Kickstarter Updates #4, 6 and demo News

by Myrthos, 12:38

Two more updates are available for Telepath: Tactics (6.6K/25.5K, 23 more days). Actually there are 3, but one is for backers only.

An alpha demo of Telepath: Tactics is available for download now for Windows and Mac.

Update number 4 is about modding capabilities. In a video Craig explains how this works.

This video just scratches the surface of what's possible in Telepath Tactics. I didn't discuss editing tilesets, character sprites and other graphics; editing skills and attacks; adding in custom weather, lighting, or battle conditions; or creating cut scenes. I also left out most aspects of dialog scripting, didn't touch on randomizing character names, etc. etc. This was a bare-bones preview, in other words.

I'm in the process of documenting how to mod each aspect of the game; right now, the game manual has a pretty comprehensive guide to modding in new tilesets, as well as new skills and attacks. Go give it a look if you're curious to learn more about modding in Telepath Tactics.

Update #6 is about the 26 classes of Telepath: Tactis, that are all listed in the update.

Assassin - The Assassin is frail but fast--she can move 9 spaces per turn, leap over obstacles, and has a 20% chance to dodge all non-mental attacks. Assassins also get an unusually large backstab bonus to their attacks; combined with their high maneuverability, this makes them very useful for getting behind and quickly dispatching psychic healers and fighters. They cannot dodge mental attacks, however, and Assassins are highly vulnerable to the status effects slow and blind, which will prevent them from dodging any attacks at all. Used well, an assassin can be deadly; used poorly, the assassin will simply be dead.

Bowman - A strong attacker, the Bowman has a ranged counterattack and the longest attack range of any unit in the game. Bowmen are good for harassment, as they can fire their bows and continue moving afterwards. Bowmen are frail, however, and can be killed quickly if not protected. Bowmen are especially good at taking down flying enemies.

Finally Telepath: Tactics is also on Steam Greenlight and is currently at 21% from reaching the Top 100.

Sunday - December 02, 2012

Telepath: Tactics - Update #3, More Characters

by Dhruin, 08:55

A third Kickstarter update is online for Telepath Tactics, which seems to be travelling reasonably well ($5k/$25k, 27 days). This post introduces more characters:

Minnow Flaxenhair - Minnow grew up on a farm, where her natural aptitude for creating psychokinetic barriers proved useful in managing livestock. It didn't take long for a passing recruiter to catch wind of her talents, however, and now she works as a psy healer in the Magistrate's army, erecting psychokinetic shields on the battlefield to ward off potentially fatal attacks.

Minnow is talkative, fond of drink, and prone to making wisecracks. She particularly enjoys getting under Alvin's skin.

Grant Winter - Grant is a cryokineticist with an orderly, disciplined life that borders on ascetic. He does not drink, and has never taken a lover. Grant spent many years studying cryokinesis, and has bound up his sense of self-worth almost entirely in his role as a loyal and dutiful soldier. He has a good mind for tactics, though his ability to lead is sometimes compromised by his difficulty connecting with others. Commander Crowe has been grooming him to be a squad leader for some time, a fact which causes Grant no small amount of pride.

Friday - November 30, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Kickstarter Update #2

by Myrthos, 12:10

In the second update for Telepath Tactics (4.1K/25.5K, 29 days to go) new tiers and add-ons are announced,

First, we have a new $30 tier that includes the game's soundtrack!

Basically, it's the older $30 tier, but with a digital soundtrack instead of a physical postcard. You can pick whichever you like best.

Second, we have a brand new $60 tier that includes every type of non-creative digital reward:

As you can see, the $60 tier not only has the game with early access, the digital art, the soundtrack, your name in the credits, and early access to the map editor, it also gets you a full digital copy of the critically acclaimed 30-song soundtrack to my last game, Telepath RPG: Servants of God.

Cool, eh? Finally, we have our first top-up: add $9 on top of your current pledge of $10 or more, and we'll send you a free second copy of the game to give to a friend! (That's a second copy at less than the finished game will cost!)

Thursday - November 29, 2012

Telepath Tactics - Kickstarter Update #1

by Myrthos, 22:16

Craig Stern brings us the first update on his Telepath Tactics Kickstarter to talk about how things are going with the Kickstarter (more than 10% in one day), the world, the story and characters.

The World

South of mainland Cera Bella lies a giant string of islands known as the Dundar Archipelago. The Dundar isles number in the hundreds, and stretch across thousands of square miles of ocean. In the earliest times, each island was largely isolated, its inhabitants—if there were any—left to develop a unique culture untouched by its neighbors.

Eight hundred years ago, Ser Gilliam Dundar changed that. Making use of new sailing and navigation technologies, he led a massive army on a whirlwind conquest of the archipelago, absorbing island after island into a sprawling empire that would endure for centuries. With no unifying culture to bind them, Emperor Dundar and his successors have required a deft hand to keep tensions among the islands under control.

The Dundar Empire is ruled over by a popularly elected senate. After serving their terms, former senators are given the title magistrate and are appointed as provincial governors, typically with control over one or more isles. However, the Senate can--in exceptional circumstances--remove a magistrate from office and assign his land to someone else.

The rise of steam technology has caused problems for Dundar's political system. Steam tech is powered by vibra, a volatile crystal that heats up dramatically when exposed to a spark. The geological strata beneath many of Dundar's islands contain rich veins of vibra.

Shadowlings, disembodied creatures from the nether reaches of the earth, were the first to discover the secrets of vibra mining. They established sophisticated and powerful mining companies to extract vibra from the earth wherever it may be found. Though native to mainland Cera Bella, the shadowlings have increasingly found it profitable to meddle in the Dundar isles in order to gain access to their veins of vibra.

Specifically, the shadowlings have been known to interfere in Senate elections by funneling financial support to whichever candidate looks more likely to win, then returning when the senator becomes a magistrate and asking permission to mine on the magistrate's islands. Not surprisingly, they usually get this permission.

Telepath Tactics - Goes to Kickstarter

by Myrthos, 12:04

We have covered news before on Telepath Tactics during its development and now it has been brought to Kickstarter so Craig Stern can get some funding to finalize his game in a better way. He is asking for 25.5K and already 11% of that amount is pledged.

Telepath Tactics is a turn-based tactical RPG in the tradition of Fire Emblem and Disgaea. It features a single player campaign with well-written characters embroiled in a tale of war and political intrigue, as well as 2-to-6 player multiplayer with support for hotseat play (i.e. you and your friends playing together in the same room, Super Smash Brothers style). Telepath Tactics is being developed for Windows, Mac and Linux.


Telepath Tactics takes place in a fantasy-steampunk universe that averts most of the tropes you're used to from these sorts of games. Magic doesn't exist: instead, there is psionics and steam-powered technology reliant on a volatile, crystalline substance called vibra. Cavaliers don't ride horses: they ride giant, armored praying mantises. There are no elves, no dwarves, no goblins, no dragons: it's just humans and a few other, entirely original sentient races (such as the shadowlings, disembodied floating heads that quite literally feed on human suffering).


Telepath Tactics takes a highly deterministic approach to combat mechanics. Attack damage is 100% predictable, and attacks always hit unless there is some intervening factor (such as the attacker having been blinded, or the target having some special defensive status effect). In this regard, it is very much a game of skill akin to chess—chance will seldom determine the outcome of a battle.

Telepath Tactics borrows liberally from the best tactics games around to provide a wide variety of available strategies. Throw enemies off of cliffs; push enemies into water or lava; fling friends across gaps; set your enemies on fire; freeze them; blind them; cripple them; stun them; use hit-and-run tactics with cavalry and bowmen; teleport; grab item drops; stick your ranged units on the high ground to boost their effectiveness; the list goes on and on.

Information about

Telepath Tactics

Developer: Sinister Design

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced

Regions & platforms
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2015-04-16
· Publisher: Sinister Design